Farrel O'Shea was one of the 80s most radical wave sailors, but lately he's more involved with speed and helming a successful watersports company.
O'Shea International manufacture the O'Shea Stealth 5/4/3/ wetsuit - which we'll review - as well as clothing, surfboards, SUPs. It also imports/distributes Simmer windsurf gear, making the company an all-round brand catering for a broad range of participants.
With this in mind, the O'Shea wetsuit range has to serve a variety of different needs. The wants of surfers are very different to the needs of windsurfers so we were keen to get hold of one of their flagship winter wetsuits, the Stealth, and put it through its paces.
The Stealth Unwrapped
The Stealth is an impressive and well-made looking bit of kit straight out of the wrapping. The iconic O'Shea logo is emblazoned across the chest meaning you'll definitely stand out from the pack wearing this wetty.
Extremely well engineered, the Stealth features 100% Truflex neoprene, full Mitsu liquid taped seams, Supertex reinforced kneepads, titanium chest padding, thermal insulator core technology and a super water tight front zip pullover membrane.
All O'Shea wetsuits are manufactured exclusively from 100% limestone-based neoprene, which ensures you get the ultimate in stretch, warmth, fit and durability while maintaining your environmentally friendly credentials.
All in all, a classy looking suit that we were amping to get wet.
Ready to ride
Once suited and booted it became clear just how ergonomically fitting the Stealth was.
Get the sizing right and on all windsurfing trips you'll be rewarded with a wetsuit that literally feels like it's been sprayed on. There were no baggy sections but flexibility remained in the key areas - behind the knees and elbows.
Neck, ankle and wrist seals were impressive and when combined with a decent pair of booties, gloves and hood (the Stealth comes with an attached hood if that's a preference) you feel toastie and warm with no loss of heat as you stand on the beach.
On super cold days the thermal properties of the Stealth are confidence inspiring, meaning you can focus on riding hard and not how to stay warm.
On water action
One of the most annoying things about wetsuits for windsurfing is that when riding over chop and/or waves the ankles tend to fill up with sea water and balloon up. This adds extra weight to the rider and is annoying. The Stealth doesn't suffer from this problem at all.
Wetsuits for wind sports used to be manufactured from slick/shiny single lined neoprene. The benefits were less heat loss through evaporation but at the expense of durability.
Nowadays, technology has improved to the point that double-lined suits, such as the Stealth, perform well in all environments - on the water or in it.
We tried the suit out during a recent UK cold snap at West Wittering and at no point was there any cause for concern regarding heat loss.
Wind chill induced cold wasn't a factor when windsurfing, which meant enjoyment levels stayed high.
West Wittering is a great jump spot with ramps stacked up to the horizon during windy spells. This gave the chance to see how the Stealth fared after big stacks and wet landings.
The Stealth provided a degree of protection against under rotated forward loops where a little back slapping is common. The seals once again did their job and little to no water flushed through the suit.
During one particular wipeout, all kit was swept away and a swim ensued. The snug fitting nature of the suit meant that swimming in the surf was actually relatively easy. Sometimes wetsuits can be extremely restrictive during swims, which zaps even more energy, but the Stealth not so.
After being reunited with board and rig, it was time to carry on with the session.
Back on dry land
Walking back up the beach garnered a bit of interest from other watersports enthusiasts who are only used to seeing the more common wetsuit brands. The Stealth was eye opening for many...
After the windy kit was packed away the one and only downside of the suit reared its head. A very small point, but due to the snug fitting nature of the suit, getting it off again was a bit of mission.
After some contortionist-like manoeuvres, we were out of the rubber and back in normal clothes. With a little more use, the knack for removing the suit will no doubt become apparent. This however should not deter you from purchasing what is a superbly made and extremely warm winter wetsuit.
If you're in the market for some new rubber then the Stealth would be a wise choice. Try something different and don't follow the pack, you'll be glad you did!
Here's a vid of me testing the Stealth, enjoy!